The Corbynite hate list is a long one: business, success, Blairites, British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and Israel, to name just a few. But if they hate one thing above all, it appears to be the media – and particularly any outlets that dare to produce anything other than praise for the Labour leader. Day to day, this manifests itself in contempt for “the Murdoch press” or “rags” which print critical stories. But every now and then the anger focuses on one individual.
Such is the fate of Andrew Marr, whose crime yesterday was to ask Corbyn some questions to which he gave some stunningly unpopular answers – including that Trident submarines could be put to sea without any weapons, that we should enter talks with Argentina about the fate of the Falklands and that secondary strike action and flying pickets should be legalised. Of course, given the nature of blind loyalty to the Dear Leader, the person the left holds responsible for these answers is not Corbyn for uttering them but Marr for having the temerity to ask the questions.
That tells us a lot about the attitude of the modern left to the role of the press in a democracy – journalists are now routinely harangued on social media and in person for performing their vitally important role of scrutinising people who want to run the country. If their enthusiastic support for Leveson left any doubt, their actions show perfectly clear that they actively oppose the freedom of the media.
Labour’s problem, however, is not that journalists keep exposing the bizarre views and perverse priorities of their leader, it’s that their leader both holds these views and chooses to prioritise them above other issues.
The Trident question is not some irrelevance dredged up by Marr against Corbyn’s will. He chose to use his never-ending reshuffle to remove Maria Eagle from the Shadow Defence brief and replace her with Emily Thornberry, precisely to shore up the anti-Trident position around his Shadow Cabinet table. Thornberry is the first unilateral disarmer to hold the post since the 1980s, and given her other flaws that seems to be the only possible reason for her promotion.
There are plenty of other things the Leader of the Opposition could be doing, to far greater effect. He could be talking about the delays in Universal Credit. He could be pressing the Chancellor on his repeatedly missed deficit targets. He could be asking why the Prime Minister’s EU renegotiation ‘rabbits’ are so miniscule when compared to the aims he set out at the start of the process. But he would prefer to bang on about the nuclear deterrent – an issue which reminds voters of one of his greatest weaknesses. The fact this paragraph, written as it is by a Conservative, contains a more coherent criticism of the Government than any set out by Corbyn himself should be a cause for concern for Labour.
You don’t have to be a supporter of Trident to recognise the problem here. The man’s judgement is completely off-beam – he could hold his views on disarmament but prioritise more effective issues if he chose. The problem is that he simply doesn’t see why he should.